Cytokine Storms and Uncontrolled Inflammation can be Deadly
Many times in hearing discussions of dangers of COVID-19 and causes of death, we hear a major threat to life is a “cytokine storm.” First things first, so what is a cytokine? A cytokine is a small protein released by cells that affects communications and interactions or behavior of cells and between cells. Another way is to envision cytokines as protein faxes that provide communication between cells.
When acting appropriately in the immune response, cytokines are beneficial, but when gathering in masses in an inappropriate immune response reaction to a virus, a cytokine storm composition can occur causing damage, especially in the lungs, and if not controlled can even be deadly.
Cytokines include interleukins, lymphokines and cell signal molecules including among others, tumor necrosis factor (TNF alpha – necrosis means killing) and interferon. To understand cytokines, you must be aware of the inflammatory process. Yes, it is complicated, but you need to better understand what can potentially cause your demise! There are more than 50 interleukins but we will only address a few of the most important involved in inflammation; excess inflammation being the danger in a cytokine storm.
IL-1 Interleukin as IL1 alpha and IL1 beta are cytokines responsible for production of inflammation, as well as promotion of fever and sepsis..
IL2 helps regulate white blood cells-leukocytes and immunity, including activating inflammation in dendritic cells, microglia and alveolar macrophages in the lungs. The danger is uncontrolled inflammation.
IL6 is an interleukin that acts as both a pro-inflammatory cytokine and anti-inflammatory myokine; the latter a cytokine produced from muscle. The confusing aspect is IL6 can be both pro-inflammatory and also an anti-inflammatory myokine that can inhibit pro-inflammatory TNF-alpha and IL1 alpha while activating IL10 that contributes to shutting down inflammation.
IL10 is an anti-inflammatory cytokine able to downregulate Th1 helper T cell cytokines, while enhancing B cell survival, proliferation and antibody production. IL10 can further inhibit synthesis and replication (multiplication) of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
IL12 is a cytokine naturally produced by dendritic cells (antigen presenting cells), macrophages and neutrophils . If IL 12 is impaired it will limit interferon production of T and NK cells and associated anti-viral benefits.
So what is a cytokine storm? There are two types of cytokines – proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory, with some subsets having been described above. Be aware inflammation in appropriate amounts is needed to draw an immune response to a health challenge. The problem comes when the inflammatory response will not stop after its purpose is fulfilled.
When mega amounts of cytokines join together and will not calm and shut down, a cytokine storm creating excessive inflammation occurs often damaging or killing cells and harming tissue. If excessive cells die from cytokine damage, organs can stop functioning and die. If organs die, the human body dies and life ceases.
When individuals with COVID-19 have huge excesses of cytokines the condition is designated as a cytokine storm creating inflammation capable of damaging and even killing cells in the lungs. As a desperate step, respirators and other breathing assisting equipment and powerful drugs are used and administered to attempt to help the body function, reduce inflammation and provide time sufficient to heal. Permanent damage can occur in the lungs and heart.
Bottom line, to control and stop a cytokine storm requires a substance or drug intervention capable of rapidly contributing to the body’s ability to normalize these various cytokines and reduce inflammation. Anti-inflammatory cytokines must be enhanced and increased while concurrently diminishing or shutting down the inflammatory cytokines not functioning properly. When a successful combination is effected, the massive inflammation in a cytokine storm can be calmed. If a person is severely immuno-compromised intensive inflammation can cause patient’ organ damage and even death.
An important cytokine is found in Interferon described as a signaling protein with the function of sounding the alarm when host cells that produce interferons recognize the presence of one of several viruses. Interferons are essential in combatting viruses, including the current COVID-19 disease caused by COVID Sars-2 virus.
The frequent pattern of response by a host cell infected by a virus is to release interferons produced by the infected cell. The interferon production may not save the infected cell, but does cause nearby cells to increase antiviral defenses by the process of reactivity to slow down or stop replication and spread of a virus.
People over 65 and/or having an additional medical challenge (comorbidity) are especially susceptible to COVID-19 cytokine storms and must be closely monitored during recovery. Much research is being done to discover what works fast and effectively in stopping the rapid replication of the COVID Sars-2 virus and especially the occurrence of cytokine storms.
One such peer reviewed research study by F Budak, G Goral and others involving beta glucan and Interferon production contained the following result: “B-glucan significantly upregulated IFN-y [interferon-Gamma] .These data suggest that B-glucan may support anti-tumor and anti-infective immune response by increasing IL-12-induced IFN-y production in T cells.” (research source: www.betaglucan.org/i-p). Note: The referenced study used a beta glucan from a researcher’ source and was not MG Beta glucan used in many NSC products.
Beta glucan does not prevent , treat or kill a virus or any other pathogen, but gives nutritional enhancement in the production of cytokines and potentiation of other immune cells and substances, such as interferon, that do act as potent antivirals in the human body if produced in adequate amounts. Beta glucan is classified as GRAS and as a biological response modifier. Beta glucan as a food ingredient is safe and contributes nutritionally to normalizing your immune cells.
Literally billions of dollars are now dedicated to producing a vaccine that will be effective without significant side effects in preventing and curing the Sars-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Virus mutations are also a risk to be addressed. All people everywhere encourage and pray for a solution soon.
In addition, many are involved in many forms of medical research to find nutritional and other human body components that can be beneficial in addressing this devastating virus now in pandemic form and can be used together with any successful vaccine in the future.
Statements and information herein regarding beta glucan, dietary supplements or other products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.